SWITZERLAND, JULY 28 – Suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu has submitted a 78-page defence to the Presidential Investigation Committee, that he is innocent of all allegations against him.
Magu described the allegations as false and aimed at bringing him to disrepute.
He said he never disrespected the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), who has authority to prosecute all cases.
He also claimed that he did not sell seized assets to cronies because no recovered properties had been sold since he came on board. He denied operating slush accounts through proxies.
He said: “I am always transparent in the exercise of my official duties and there is no official decision that I have taken as the Acting Chairman of the Commission which was not a product of transparent process and in compliance with the statutory provisions
“The Commission did not oppose the enactment of the proceeds of crime Bill, 2019 but was opposed to some negative and far-reaching provisions of the bill which will impede and reverse the anti-corruption agenda of the Federal Government of Nigeria considering the negative impact of Section 162(3) of proceeds of Crime Bill 2019 will have on the tracing and recovery of proceeds of crimes in Nigeria, Mr. President in his wisdom declined assent to the bill.”
Magu insisted that no single recovered property had been sold since his assumption of office in 2015.
He said: “The Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations 2019 made by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation without the intervention of the National Assembly seeks to divest the commission of its statutory power to trace, recover and institute non-conviction based for future proceedings in court. This conflicts with the statutory mandates and powers conferred on the commission to the National Assembly.
“In paragraph B (10), it was alleged that most of the forfeited assets are sold without anyone knowing or having proper record and recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake the evaluation of such properties.
“It was also alleged that some of the assets have been taken over by officials of the commission while some are sold at a giveaway price to my friends and cronies.
“It was further alleged that I maintained different accounts including using proxies who return the benefits of the sold assets to me and that the proceeds of the purported sales were used to acquire properties in the name of my proxies.
“Sir, I deny each and every allegations contained in paragraph B(10) of the petition as they are totally false, untrue and merely targeted at destroying my hard-earned reputation as an incorruptible officer.
“That contrary to the allegations, I know as a fact and verily believe that since my assumption of office as the Acting Chairman of the Commission, not a single recovered property has been sold and the proceeds fraudulently converted.
“All steps taken by me in respect of recovered and forfeited assets were in accordance with powers conferred on me by the Act of the National Assembly which established the commission.”
He said although the late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari in February 2018, directed EFCC not to dispose of assets, he drew the attention of Vice President to the depreciation of some of the assets in July 2018.
He said: “Also, by a letter reference number SH/COS/34/ 25/ A/475 dated 22/2/18, the Chief of Staff to the President directed the commission not to take any step towards the sale, disposal or other dealing with the recovered and forfeited assets unless otherwise directed.
“In demonstrating my total commitment towards ensuring that the Federal Government of Nigeria derives the full economic benefit and in order to prevent the dissipation of forfeited assets, on the 17th of July 2018, I wrote a letter to His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN (Chairman, Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery) wherein I informed him of the steps taken by the commission to prevent economic loss as a result of the depreciating nature of the forfeited assets, the challenges we are encountering and the need to urgently dispose of the perishable and depreciating forfeited assets.
On the irreconcilable differences of the non-cash assets, Magu said there were no such things.
He added: The commission did not make any conflicting submissions or returns in respect of the non-cash assets as the PCARA never informed me or the commission of any difficulty it faced as a result of the information we provided.”
He said he has never disobeyed the directives of the President and he was not guilty of insubordination to the AGF as alleged.
He added: “I have never disobeyed any directives and regulations of Mr. President whether in relation to the management of the recovered and forfeited assets or any sundry issues.
“In the discharge of my official functions, I am bound to comply with the provisions of various enabling laws enacted by the National Assembly which confer certain special powers on the commission in respect of recovered and forfeited assets which are in conflict with the regulations of HAGF.
“The power to prosecute cases was not what I can arrogate to myself. Before I became the Acting Chairman of the commission, it has exercised its statutory power to institute criminal charges where prima facie evidence is made out without seeking for the consent of HAGF. As a matter of fact, the the various decisions of our appellate courts are that the commission does not need the consent/fiat of the HAGF to institute criminal charges.
“Notwithstanding the position of the law, and the powers statutorily conferred on the commission to institute criminal proceedings, I have constantly briefed the HAGF in respect of our activities.
“Apart from my direct briefings, I also appointed a liaison officer to coordinate the official relationship between the commission and the Federal Ministry of Justice.”